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Advice for Parents to Help Children with Homework

Many parents battle daily with their children over doing their homework assignments. But parents of children with learning disabilities have a task that is doubly difficult and many times they find themselves hopeless in the face of this reality. Some react with anger and subsequently ruin their relationship with their children and there are those that just give up.


Nitzan Israel gives advice to parents, and mainly to parents with children with learning disabilities and/or ADHD to deal more effectively with doing homework.


  • Choose the Optimal Time for Doing Homework

It's a good idea to do homework at the best time for the child. A short rest after coming home from school and then doing homework allows the child to do what he needs to before becoming tired and absorbing more stimulation from computer games and television. It's important to set homework and leisure times from the outset, both for the weekdays and weekends.

  • Improve the Homework Setting

Be flexible regarding the place where homework is done. Not every child works most effectively by a table in a quiet room. There are children that prefer lying down on the floor, sitting on a bed, or on the table in the kitchen, despite the clatter.

There are children who like background noise while others prefer quiet. While television usually disrupts the child's focus, music can be a preferred background noise for children. It's important to be flexible as long as your child really does his homework in the place that he chooses for himself.

  • Ensure Parental Presence or that of Another Significant Adult Figure

The difficulty to gather the strength to do homework is even more when the child is alone. Repeated failures in putting forth effort and perceding until reaching a desired goal bring to despair from the outset.

In the presence of an adult, the desire to learn in order to make the adult happy and to receive appreciation and admiration from him help encourage motivation. Many children stubbornly persist that their parent at least sit by them when they're doing their homework. Afterwards, the adult can gradually decrease his presence to sit closely and encourage, to sit in the area and do something else, to take a look at the child every so often and to encourage etc...

  • Make a Safe and Loving Learning Environment

Children with learning disabilities need a safe and loving environment. Only in an environment like this can the child take chances and cope with challenging academic standards and failures.

In order to succeed in developing attention and management skills the child needs an adult he can turn to when it's hard for him and that will help him to pace himself effectively. Minimizing corrections and criticism and reducing reprehensions and lectures are a guarantee to keeping a positive relationship and a supportive routine.

  • Help Organize Assignments

Help your child organize his assignments that he received at school, help decide where to begin, to gather and organize the things he needs, make sure he understands what he's being asked to do, and when you make sure that he successfully began, leave him alone and let him continue by himself. Afterwards, help him move on to the next task.

  • Help Your Child Organize His Learning Assignments in the Best Way For Him

When your child has a lot of homework at different levels of difficulty; where is it best for him to begin? This depends on the child and the particular make-up of the assignments he received. It's likely that if he begins with the easier assignments and afterwards moves to the more difficult ones then this will contribute to his self-confidence. On the other hand, if he'll finish with the difficult assignments first, then the final assignments will be easier for him. Try both methods to see what's most appropriate for him. Don't worry about changing between both of them according to the situation.

  • Plan Long-Term Assignments

Make it easier for your child to do big projects by breaking up the project into smaller parts. Set dates for completing each small assignment so that in the end the entire project will be ready on time.

This process will help your child to focus on smaller parts of the big project, will strengthen his motivation, and will teach him planning methods.

  • Take Breaks

Set together with your child the frequency and length of breaks that he will take when doing homework. Try to estimate the time he needs to do his homework and break it down into smaller units of time.

  • Avoid Sudden Transitions from Free Activity to Homework

The transition from an enjoyable activity to doing homework is likely to be difficult for children. Make the transition easier by giving a simple activity that will help him enter the mindset of work and focus. For example, folding laundry, setting the table, or sweeping the floor. 

  • Help Getting Organized and Planning

You can help your child get organized by setting a fixed routine that's implemented at fixed times according to a written list or a list of preparations that can be easily remembered.

 Children that successfully internalize and practice writing in a daily planner, preparing  "To Do" lists, and remembering to follow after what's written in the planner or list improve their organizational abilities significantly.

  • Ask Guiding Questions

When your child gets stuck and doesn't manage to keep doing the assignment, ask him guiding questions that direct him to finding the correct answer. Guiding questions help children acquire the ability to approach complex problems slowly step after step.

  • Avoid Saving Your Child From Homework Crises

Every child, at one stage or another, forgets to do his homework or puts it off until it's too late. When this happens, avoid intervening to fix the situation. Instead of this, guide him regarding the steps he should take in order to get out of the situation. For example, if he forgot to write down his homework assignments, sit by him until he calls a classmate to find out what the assignments are.

In a case where he doesn't successfully finish the homework on time, instead of writing a note to the teacher, suggest to him to write a letter to the teacher in which he explains why he wasn't able to finish the work and to ask for an extension. Sign the letter together. When you allow you child to take responsibility for his mistakes, he learns important methods for solving problems.

  • Ask For Outside Help

There could be a period of time when you're not the most appropriate person to help your child with his homework. In a case where working together causes you both frustration, search for outside help. This doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money on private teachers or a learning center. You can, for example, change places with a different parent of a child in the class, or ask for help from a big brother or a family member. It's better that you guard your role as a loving parent, to protect your good relationship with your child instead getting into a cycle of anger because of homework.

  • Know to Stop When Needed

Everyone has his or her limits and sometimes your child can be tired or too frustrated to continue working. This is the time to stop. In a case where this is possible, try going back to the assignment later.  In a case where the homework was given to turn in the next day, write a note to the teacher explaining that your child did as much as he could that day.

  • Take Notice of the Teacher's Notes and Corrections

Go over the homework with your child that the teacher returned with corrections. This is an opportunity for you to praise him for his good work that he did and on the progress that he made. In this way you can also find out the difficult points and areas in which he needs more practice.  

  • Reward Progress

Giving small prizes for doing homework can encourage children greatly. When your child is dealing with a difficult learning assignment, promising a small prize can help him gather strength and finish the task. Think about prizes for long-term assignments as well, such as a large and complicated project.

  • Turn Your Child into the Teacher

Encouraging your child to teach you can help him raise his self-confidence. Request from your child to show you how he solved a problem, ask him questions. When he explains to you the material he's learning, this will help think in an organized way and to define terms and you can see the areas in which he needs to work further.

  • Use Your Child's Interests

When there's an attraction to certain familiar subjects and a preference to focus on a favorite topic and work with it, then it's a good idea to begin to build a connection and learning through the favorite topic. Gradually, it's possible to broaden and vary the repertoire and to insert other topics.